What happened to my skills?

I have a couple of riding buddies who are facing a problem – they seem to have regressed as riders over the last year or so. Despite logging saddle time they just don’t seem to have the same skills and abilites they possessed not too long ago. If you’ve experienced this then you know how frustrating it can be.

While I could be wrong I have a theory about why this is. You see, all riding skills are composed of basic movement, strength and body awareness. These components naturally peak in your early to mid 20’s and simply riding your bike will result in increased trail endurance and skills. However, if not purposfully trained through strength and conditioning these components also start to decline as we get into our late 20’s and early 30’s.

There is a day when you will wake up and your strength, power and mobility will have eroded to the point that you will notice it on the trail. At first it may just seem like an off day but after a few weeks or months you realize that your “off day” is every day. You just don’t feel like the same rider and no matter how much you ride you just can’t seem to get that feeling of being “on it” back.

This is usually when we write it off as simply getting older or as needing a new bike or fork but the truth is that the engine that drives the bike is breaking down and needs to be fixed. The good news is that you can reverse the trend and get better each and every year. By spending a couple of hours a week working on strength, power and mobility you can actually improve with age.

So, the lesson here is pretty simple. If you are currently experiencing this permanent “off day” trend then don’t accept it. One day you realize the advantages of youth are wasted on the young and you can either accept it or do something about it. I don’t know about you but I’m going to do something about it.

If you are in your 20’s then know the day IS coming that you will wake up and feel old and stiff on the trail. You can either wait until that day to do something about it or you can be proactive and start addressing it now.

The trail is waiting to reveal itself to you at a higher level, you just have to be prepared to see it. You can get better as a rider every day no matter how old you are. Don’t let your fun die off a slow death because your basic physical skills are eroding.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Nate says:

    Just wanted to throw it out there that I’m 32, I do MTB specific workouts and every time I go out and bike I work on a specific skill and now I’m a stronger and faster MTBiker then I ever was in my 20’s.

    Reply • June 4 at 3:28 pm
  2. Eric says:


    Thank goodness. I’m about at the end of my 20’s and I can’t afford to get any slower!

    Reply • June 4 at 4:07 pm
  3. Greg says:

    Well I turn 51 in a few weeks time and have recently run a 5:20 mile which is faster than when I was 45 by at least 40 seconds. I attribute a large part of this improvement to The Ultimate Program and James take on interval training.

    Since I only started to ride trails a couple of years ago I can’t attest to how I might have ridden in my 20’s, but I have noticed the benefits of training over the last few months. It also hasn’t gone unnoticed by the guys I ride with either.

    So, in my experience, it is possible to improve with age, the trick seems to be paying more attention to the recovery phase and not over eating.

    Reply • June 4 at 9:12 pm
    • bikejames says:

      I’m 33 and much better than I was in my 20’s. I feel that every year I take a step forward as a rider and right now I’m so stoked to get out on the trail and see what I feel I get better at next.

      Glad to hear that some other people have experienced the same thing. Staying stoked on the trail for as long as possible is my goal.


      Reply • June 6 at 3:09 pm
  4. Karmen says:

    That’s encouraging to hear James and Greg. I’m 42 and just got into mountain biking about 1 1/2 ago. On top of that I am trying to dig myself out of a big “fitness hole.” Once in a while I think I’m foolish to be starting my mountain biking fun now and that maybe I have missed my opportunity, but it sounds like that isn’t the case.
    I’m with you James, I’m always excited to see what I can do better the next time I get out and ride. It is nice to have found a few people as jazzed as I am!

    Reply • June 7 at 7:04 pm

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